The burgeoning medical technology market is set to boost shares of a handful of key players, according to one team of bulls on the Street who initiated coverage on the sector with a "positive view."
In a note to clients on Tuesday, Barclays analyst Kristen Stewart highlighted the investment bank's favorite picks in the red-hot sector. Stewart recommends investors buy shares of Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Boston Scientific (BSX), Medtronic (MDT) and Stryker (SYK), which she expects to outperform the broader market amid a period of heightened volatility. The analyst attributed her upbeat outlook to improving fundamentals and innovation trends, "thanks in part due to a more favorable FDA environment."
MedTech to Grow Between 4% to 5% for 'Foreseeable Future'
"The industry's structure (e.g., oligopolies) is favorable and conducive to profitable growth," wrote Stewart. She expects the medtech market to grow between 4% to 5% "for the foreseeable future," noting that the recent increase in price-to-earnings (P/E) multiples is warranted due to the sector's strengthened fundamentals. Stewart expects relative P/E's to be "at least maintained."
Barclays is particularly bullish on shares of Abbott Labs, due to the company's promising product pipeline and "favorable mix of businesses." Stewart's 12-month price forecast on shares of the Chicago-based company at $80 imply near-16% upside from current levels. With trading down about 1.6% at $69.12 on Thursday morning, Abbott Labs stock reflects a 21.1% increase year-to-date (YTD), compared to the S&P 500's 4.7% return over the same period.
Despite positive tailwinds for the medtech sector in general, the Barclays analyst started coverage on Baxter (BAX), Edwards Lifesciences (EW), and Zimmer Biomet (ZBH) at Underweight in light of "greater earnings risk."
Others view struggling Zimmer Biomet as an opportunity to get into the high growth market at a bargain price. Stephanie Link, managing director at Nuveen, recently cashed in on Abbott in order to buy rival Zimmer. Link attributed her optimism to new management at Zimmer, who she expects to execute asset sales and fix issues with the "base business." While Link agrees that a turnaround will take "significant time," she points to Zimmer's 16.2 times forward earnings multiple, compared to 22.4 times for Abbott.